Last month, dispatchers across the country participated in community outreach programs to teach people about 9-1-1 emergency services. Washington State Patrol communications officers also took part…but in a brand new way.

WSP communication officers, or COs for short, just launched their own 9-1-1 Public Education program. Their kick-off event? A month-long tour of reading to children at local libraries. With April being, National 9-1-1 Education Month, the timing couldn’t have been better.

COs traveled to various Timberland Libraries throughout Western Washington with a book called “Emery and the Ice Carnival.”

Emery is actually King County’s Enhanced Emergency Program mascot. After receiving permission from the county, WSP COs set out to teach kids about how, when, and where to call 9-1-1. However this program isn’t just geared for children, it’s also tailored for their parents.

WSP Communication Officer Brooke Cunningham says “It’s not all about getting kids to understand how 9-1-1 works, it’s also about sparking conversation.”

In Emery the Emergency Penguin’s story, she finds herself needing to know her address so first responders can come to her aid. During this part of the reading, Brooke asks the kids to raise their hand if they know their home address. “For those kids who don’t raise their hand, we hope parents will recognize that and start a conversation at home of teaching their kids where they live just in case a real emergency actually happens.”

The programs entire goal is to get kids engaged and teaching them early about 9-1-1.

“It’s a heart thing,” says Cunningham says. She explains that the program is only given a budget of $5,000 per year. That cost is to include all educational materials, travel expenses, etc. “Funding doesn’t drive this program. It’s the people, the communications officers, who are volunteering their time, their skills, and their passion for keeping people safe.”

After finishing their month tour, COs gearing up to start giving similar presentations to elementary schools.